Psychedelic prog album reviews round-up

Take a trip with Rob Hughes as he seeks out the latest mind-expanding music with new releases from Nick Garrie, Dream Giant, The Brainiac 5, The Dials, Chew and Spectral Haze

Chew - A Fine Accoutrement album artwork

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New studio albums by **Nick Garrie **are as rare as original copies of The Nightmare Of J.B. Stanislas, his 1969 baroque-pop masterpiece. The Moon And The Village (Tapete) is only his third in nearly 50 years. A captivating set with a wistful air, it sees the Yorkshireman unpacking narratives about people undergoing their own private crises. Garrie verses it all in pastel tones, backed by sensitive arrangements on acoustic guitar, piano and strings. The ghost of Procol Harum looms over My Dear One, while the more kinetic Bacardi Samuel outlines the story of a drunken bum who suddenly vanishes.

A similar bucolicism informs_ A Different Light_ (Paisley Parade), the debut from Dream Giant, also known as London-based musician/producer Harry Dean. He tackles a variety of instruments – lead guitar, synths and melodica included – to fashion lush, psychedelic pop with fluffy hooks and oodles of phased effects. Tune In exudes acid traces of I Monster, as well as 60s cult heroes Nirvana. And the weirdo charm of Hello Sunday suggests that Dean knows his way around The Beta Band’s catalogue too.

**The Brainiac 5 **have been around for nearly as long as Nick Garrie and they’re just as elusive. _We’re Ready! _(Reckless) is their third album since reforming in 2013 and finds the UK veterans in rude health. Frontman Charlie Taylor sounds not unlike Nick Saloman or Robyn Hitchcock, his voice a perfect vehicle for delivering the churning English psych of Drinking Song or My Time. Pick of the bunch, however, is She’s Free, a rewired version of Trotsky (originally heard on the band’s 1978 EP, Mushy Doubt), in which returning singer Jessie Pie recounts a tale of toxic lust over a skanky rhythm and mad flurries of guitar.

Brighton quartet The Dials have been delivering a plural strain of psychedelia for over a decade now. That Was The Future (Gear Discs) is underpinned by funky grooves with plenty of lysergic stuff swimming around on top. Farfisa and vintage keyboards provide rich textures, while disengaged vocals drift in on curls of incense smoke. Cue Kinksy dreaminess, Byrds-ish harmonies and what feels like a tribute to Cardiacs offshoot The Sea Nymphs on the parping prog pop of The Moon And The Stars And The Tides Of The Sea.

Further afield, Atlanta instrumentalists Chew deliver glitchy psych, heads-down riff rock and contorted prog on terrific mini album A Fine Accoutrement (Stolen Body). They ramp up the spaciness on Crunchy, which ends with what sounds like a spaceship hovering in to land.

Those of a heavy disposition may also enjoy Turning Electric (Totem Cat), the third album from Norwegian quartet** Spectral Haze**. The sounds of 70s Hawkwind permeate the blizzard rush of the title track, led by gruff yelper Spacewülff. For pure stoner ritualism, however, it pales next to the eight-plus minutes of Cathexis/Mask Of Transformation.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.